Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Move Out East? Where Do I Sign Up...?

I do genuinely love hockey conversations with Mrs. Martini... at least the ones in which her participation is more substantial than the "Dammit, it's another [expletive] hockey conversation" eye-roll.

But seriously... when we're sitting down and talking pucks -- and I actually have a good, quality response to the question "And I will unequivocally care about this BECAUSE...?" -- it's a good time. So, over the weekend, as I'm explaining the different scenarios that are now buzzing regarding Atlanta's potential move to Winnipeg and the corresponding potential move of Columbus, Nashville or (for some reason) Detroit, the first thing on her mind was... would it help, and would it even make a difference as far as the Jackets' long-term future in Columbus?

(Yeah, she's a bit less optimistic than I am about what happens if/when the CBJ's financial situation comes to a head.)

I explained the important details that have been so eloquently discussed by others in the CBJBC -- which is why I'm not going to spend a lot of time rehashing.

But, I essentially discussed:
  • the Jackets' performance against Eastern Conference clubs, especially the Southeast Division
  • the opportunity to get a couple good rivalries going (not that I don't love ripping on Detroit, but I'll get to them in a sec)
  • not as much travel, so there's a cost savings, the team hemorrhages a little less money
  • comparing points in the standings, in which the Jackets would have contended for a spot in the East (at least until about mid-March), and that was playing a tough West schedule... just imagine what would happen if our guys were playing in the East, plus... the added revenue of Playoff games, more money, etc.
Her reply?

"You're starting to sound like a Browns fan... a term usually preceded by the word 'Godforsaken.'''

[Cue my "Oh-hell-here-she-goes-again-with-that-Ohio-Pro-Sports-Are-Cursed" eye-roll]

ME: C'mon... are you really going to hold on to the "Curse" theory the rest of your life?

MRS.: "It all revolves around having low expectations, and being pleasantly surprised... yet still being afraid to talk about it..."

Like I've told you before... she is from Cleveland. This is also why I never tell her more than the score when my phone gets Tribe score updates. Anything from wearing a hat the wrong way to a broken mirror, from high gas prices to that infernal Rebecca Black "Friday" song, could jinx the team the rest of the season.

Still... for the aforementioned reasons and many others, I'd be stoked to have Columbus move East. Obviously, losing less money to travel expenses and restoring profitability would nice, as would not being up until 1 a.m. watching a game. But let's face the big issue head-on... getting into the Playoffs is awesome, and those chances increase significantly by playing in the Eastern Conference. Yes, showing impressively in the much tougher Western Conference is a bragging point, but only if you can finish the job. The Jackets have only done that once.

So, you know what? Let's take a few years off from the West... maybe move back in some other realignment scenario down the road. Yay, Columbus!

Then again, there are two other potential candidates to move. Nashville, of course, would seem an obvious choice for the Southeast geographically -- assuming the league would simply replace the open slot in that division. The fact that they're a very good team would certainly do good things for the division -- that would be one hell of a fight in the Southeast among Nashville, Washington and Tampa, don't you think?

Really, I think the only knock against the Preds might be the Central Time Zone thing. And really, more of the focus seems to be on Columbus and Detroit, anyway.

Now, Detroit seems a very odd choice. First, I don't buy the rumor of some agreement with the league that Detroit would eventually go back east. And even if I did, I doubt it would happen now, unless the NHL were to expand.

Second, a lot of Detroit fans seem to be okay with this. And I can't say I blame them. Hell, if the league gave me a chance for my team to essentially clinch the Presidents' Trophy every year by rolling over the inferior conference, I suppose I'd think about it.

The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is the BCS in college football. Schools like Texas Christian and Boise State whine about not being taken seriously, because they're not in BCS conferences. Well, TCU did something about it. They went shopping, found the weakest BCS conference, and joined the Big East, thereby clinching a BCS spot annually for the foreseeable future.

Think of it... the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals every damn year.

Would it sell a lot of hockey tickets? You bet. In Detroit.

Would it sell the game... and bring new fans to the sport of hockey? I'm not so sure. I think it would just breed more WalMart WingNuts. Nobody needs that. There are more than enough now.

Plus, I don't think it would clear a vote by the Board of Governors. The guys in the Eastern Conference know that would be absolute suicide to bring Detroit to the East.

So, why take the easy way to the Cup Finals -- other than the obvious -- when Detroit is a contender every year, and has won the Cup in four of the last 14 years? They draft insanely well... their biggest stars were like mid- to late-round picks. They're run extremely well.

They're just fine in the West, really.

Or... is age catching up to them? Maybe @FrickinDannie (Straight Jackets on AerysSports) was onto something a couple days ago when she noted, "They must be planning to scrape by with mediocrity for the next 10 years, a la Washington."

I'm not sure I totally agree, but she makes a very interesting point.... Look at what Washington has done... sure, they're still years away from a Cup, but aside from that, they're not a bad team... well, except for the Playoffs, but that's just because they're just not built for a Cup run yet.

I like Columbus' prospects in the East, and I think both the team and the Conference would benefit.

Thoughts from the gallery? I'd love to hear 'em.

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....


  1. Not that I particularly want to leave the central, or the west... it would be fun to have a state wide rivalry with Carolina, which we've never had here. Plus since the Preds play tougher, defensive hockey, they could do even more damage in the east.

    Buahahahaha... that's a thought.

    With that said, as long as it's not Detroit fleeing the west because Chicago will surpass them, I'm ok.

    Nashville, TN

  2. Dan, that's a great point. I don't think the time-zone argument is compelling enough to discount Nashville. Honestly, I'll take anyone but Detroit moving out east.

    Thanks for reading and responding!